Team Nutter on the City Hall Parking Lot
Philly Mag published a story this morning explaining the role of the Mayor’s Office in managing parking on the sidewalk/apron on the northern edge of City Hall. We didn’t have any comment from the Nutter administration then. This evening, we got responses to questions emailed to press secretary Mark McDonald on Monday (McDonald says he did not get that or several subsequent emails, and did not see the questions until after our story ran). Here they are in full.
Philly Mag: What is the administration’s policy on City Hall apron parking?
Nutter Administration: City Hall is both the seat of government and a large office complex. Apron parking is provided on a case-by-case basis, often related to visiting guests, deliveries being made, on-going building repair and servicing and instances where a person with a disability is accommodated. With limited space available, these requests are handled on a daily basis. There is also an authorized parking list, with a number of individuals who have had temporary parking while Dilworth Park was under construction. The Park has reduced perimeter street parking. Those with temporary apron parking will be reassigned to street parking when the parking lanes have been repainted and spaces are reconfigured.
Philly Mag: There have been attempts in past administrations to ban parking on the apron. Did the Nutter administration ever prohibit parking there? If so, what events led to the resumption of apron parking?
Administration: The Nutter Administration has limited and controlled parking on the apron. The Administration has not prohibited it.
Philly Mag: I understand there is a list kept by the mayor’s office of officials who are permitted to park on the apron. Will you share a copy of that list, or tell me who is on it?
(Philly Mag obtained a copy of the list from a source. In its reply the administration made note of that, and identified the source of the document. Philly mag is not identifying the source.)
Philly Mag: I have been told as well that when folks not on the list attempt to park on the apron, security and public property officials who look after the apron place calls to an executive assistant in the mayor’s office to see if the would-be parker is allowed in, or not. I’ve been told, in other words, that apron parking is controlled by the mayor’s office on a day-to-day basis. Is that true?
Philly Mag: How does the administration decide who is permitted to park on the apron, either permanently or an ad hoc basis? What criteria are used? Is it based on position? On job duties? On some combination?
Administration: A combination of factors related to the need and availability of space, e.g. a contractor doing HVAC repair needs to be here 2 days; a person with a physical disability is attending a meeting. Some Administration staff are accommodated on the apron pending the completion of the Park and a reworking of available street spaces.
Philly Mag: I know the mayor’s vehicles are regularly parked on the apron. Why?
Administration: For the Mayor’s security and efficient use of his time.
Philly Mag: Given the Dilworth renovations, some Philadelphians seem to find the juxtaposition of the handsome new plaza with the apron parking to be jarring. Has the administration given any though to reducing or eliminating apron parking in light of the work at Dilworth?
Administration: See above. Once the street reconfiguration is complete, the amount of apron parking will decline. It should be noted that the Administration reduced the number of city vehicles, the number of take home vehicles and created public parking next to MSB on 15th St.
Philly Mag: Finally, VIP parking on the apron seems inconsistent to me with Mayor Nutter’s priorities in two ways. First, Mayor Nutter has always put a premium on world-class public spaces. And yet the apron of City Hall is, at times, chock-a-block with cars. It’s a scene that mars a prominent public space, particularly now that Dilworth looks so incredible. Second, the mayor has, throughout his career, made a point of eschewing eyebrow-raising perks, and encouraging other elected officials to do the same. I’m thinking here of the admin’s policy on event tickets, accepting meals and gifts, and the mayor’s call a long time ago for council members to give up their taxpayer-funded cars. I find the parking on City Hall’s apron to be in conflict with both of these priorities. Am I wrong on that? If so, how?
Administration: You are wrong.